An open letter to party leaders: address the homelessness crisis

More than 50 charities and housing organisations are calling for change

Everyone needs a safe place to live, but homelessness is rising sharply. The next government must act to change this.

Porchlight, Homeless Link, and more than 50 other organisations have signed an open letter to political party leaders. It calls on them to:

  • build 90,000 social homes per year over a decade and reform the private rented sector
  • adopt a cross-government strategy to end homelessness, led by a new taskforce
  • ensure there are a diverse network of homelessness services available to all that need them
  • provide long-term ring-fenced homelessness funding.

Whoever our next government is, we need them to take decisive action. Everyone deserves a safe home, better life and fairer future.

The letter

Dear Leaders,

We are writing to you as a collection of the country’s leading homelessness organisations to ask you to take urgent action to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping should your party form the next Government.

Everyone needs a safe place to live and the support they need to keep it. No one should have to experience the hardship and indignity of homelessness.

But rough sleeping rose by 27% in 2023 and 60% over the past two years. Meanwhile a record number of people, including over 145,000 children, are currently experiencing homelessness, trapped living in temporary accommodation, often in squalid and overcrowded conditions. These are people, let down by systems that should protect them, unable to achieve their potential, their lives blighted by insecurity.

At the same time, the homelessness sector has contracted significantly. The latest research from Homeless Link, the national membership body for frontline homelessness services, found that the number of bed spaces for people experiencing single homelessness has decreased by 26% since 2010. With pressure on services growing, 71% of accommodation projects reported having to turn someone away from support because their project was full.

We recognise that whoever forms the next Government will have many competing priorities. But the impact of homelessness leaks across public life; from placing huge extra strain on the NHS, to crippling local authority finances, to preventing people from finding secure employment. Ending homelessness doesn’t just make sense morally, research from PwC shows that every £1 invested in ending homelessness generates an estimated £2.80 in wider savings and benefits across departments.

Homeless Link’s Manifesto to End Homelessness sets out four key asks of the next Government to create a home for everyone and was shaped by service providers across the country.

If you lead the next Government, we urge you to:

Build 90,000 social homes per year over a decade and reform the private rented sector

From building social homes and introducing a robust Renters Reform Bill to ensuring the Local Housing Allowance keeps track with private sector rent levels, ensuring people on low incomes have access to truly affordable housing, through a long-term plan, is the single biggest step we can take to prevent homelessness,
both now and in the future.

Adopt a cross-Government strategy to end homelessness, led by a new taskforce

Preventing and ending homelessness cannot be the responsibility of just one government department. A joint approach across government, which draws on the strength of teams, is the only way we can do this, ensuring all departments’ policies and programmes work consistently and holistically to end homelessness.

Ensure there are a diverse network of homelessness services available to all who need them

Solutions to homelessness are never one-size-fits-all. We must ensure homelessness services are as diverse as the people they support, meaning they’re able to meet the needs of a range of people including women, young people, non-UK nationals and LGBTQ+ people. These groups are often less visible, meaning their true needs are not reflected in the current system. We know that if personalised, trauma informed care is embedded as standard, we can find the solutions to ensure no one is left behind.

Embed long-term ring-fenced homelessness funding

Morally and financially, ending homelessness makes sense. Sustainable investment now will prevent people from losing their homes and ensure services have the resources they need to provide effective, efficient support that works.

Should you win the election, we in the homelessness sector, alongside people with lived experience of homelessness, will of course be on hand to support you in creating a society with a home for everyone.

Yours sincerely,

Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link
Polly Neate, CEO at Shelter
Matt Downie, CEO at Crisis
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation
Emma Haddad, CEO at St Mungos
Gavin Smart, CEO at the Chartered Institute for Housing
Seyi Obakin OBE, CEO at Centrepoint
Liz Rutherford, Chief Executive at Single Homeless Project
Pam Orchard, The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields
Michael Chandler, CEO at Groundswell
Stephen Bell, CEO at Changing Lives
John Glenton, Executive Director of Care & Support at The Riverside Group
Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive at Your Place
Charlotte Talbott, CEO at Emmaus UK
Paul Morrish, Chief Executive at LandAid
Salma Ravat, CEO at One Roof Leicester
Mark Grant, CEO at Action Homeless
Jean Templeton, CEO at St Basils
Natalie Allen, Chief Executive at Sifa Fireside
Dr Jan Sheldon, CEO at St Martins
Richard Gammage, Chief Executive at Two Saints
Andrew Redfern, Chief Executive at Framework
Mark Simms, CEO at P3
Jools-Ramsey-Palmer, Chief Executive at Ipswich Housing Action Group
Andy Powell, CEO at Society of St James
Wendy Taylor, Assistant Director of Services at Cranstoun
Dom Wood DL, CEO at 1625 Independent People
Steve Crane, CEO at Target Housing
Paul Roberts, Chief Executive at Aspire Oxford
James Martin, Director at Cambridge Cyrenians
Steve Rundell, CEO at Nomad Sheffield
Hilary Bartle, CEO at Stonepillow
Helen Bedser, CEO at Julian House
Jo Carter, CEO at Glass Door Homeless Charity
Malcom Putko, Group Operations Director at Harbour Housing
Chris Keating, CEO at Connection Support
Martin Clark, CEO at Allia Impact & Allia Future Homes
Amy Hull, Executive Manager at the Marylebone Project
Keely Dalfen, CEO at The Brick
Adam Colthorpe, Director of Communications at Porchlight
James Boultbee, CEO at Wycombe Homeless Connection
Lawrence Santcross, Chief Executive at Transform Housing
Tim Fallon, Chief Executive at SPEAR
Rob Payne, Director of Homeless Services at Hope Worldwide
Tim Archbold, CEO at Signposts
Tom O’Connor, CEO at Providence Row
David Ford, CEO at Expert Link
Marie Davis, CEO at Falcon Support Services
Peter Stephenson, Director at St Petrock’s
Pam Williams, Chair at Bus Shelter MK
Nicola Greenfield, Interim Director of Support at BCHA
Jonny Whitehead, Chief Executive at Herts Young Homeless
Hélène Begg, Chief Executive at YMCA Brighton
Tasmin Maitland, Chief Executive at Catching Lives
Sarah Lister, COO at Oasis Community Housing